my very first blog post doled out accolades to Frost Doughnuts, a then-new local purveyor of sublime treats. since then, Frost’s sweet creations have won numerous awards and press recognition, and the shop’s popularity has continued to grow. while the doughnuts remain the greatest, customer service makes Frost float to the top of greater Seattle’s vat of bakery establishments. and it’s customer service that’s compelled me to reconnect with my laptop, after taking some down time following my mom’s passing. truly, everything i know about exemplary customer service, i learned from her. and i imagine, everything she knew, she learned from her parents, who maintained their own wholesale and services businesses during the Great Depression.
my mom didn’t have an MBA (she actually acquired knowledge through experience), but she possessed great business savvy. more importantly, she had a genuine interest in other people, which endeared her to almost everyone she met. mom spent more than 25 years in retail selling cosmetics for Estee Lauder (ever-glamourous, my mother WOULD NEVER have been caught dead bringing her trash down the driveway without all her makeup on—seriously). as a teen, i frequently watched her in action as she enthusiastically greeted customers, listened to their stories, answered their questions—and made sales. she gained a loyal following, who remained steadfast until she retired.
when it became my turn to serve my clients, i followed mom’s example; i credit her with any measure of success i’ve achieved over the years. like her, i’ve humbly felt a sense of accomplishment in having been able to help others.
perhaps mom is putting out some pretty strong messages to the universe. but in the last few weeks, i’ve been surprisingly barraged with customer service encounters of the amazing kind.
- the Teno necklace i had worn for years broke the day of my mom’s service. fortunately, i found my dad’s wedding band that had been suspended on it at my feet. i gave the eulogy feeling naked and displaced. later, i mailed off the necklace to the Teno team in Las Vegas, and they replaced it in just a matter of days.
- American Express immediately interceded on my behalf when they learned i had been harassed by the customer service team at The Seattle Times (story to follow). the AmEx rep reversed the Times charges and initiated an investigation that was quickly resolved in my favor. i can’t speak as highly of their financial practices; perhaps they can take some cues from their customer service group?
- a Campbell Nelson Volkswagen sales manager saved the day when i wasn’t able to get my car for service for two weeks. he scheduled the appointment on the day and at the time that best fit my needs. the service advisor gave me prompt and frequent updates, and the service team completed the work in record time.
- our new Seattle Times delivery person repeatedly ran over one of our gardens and drainage areas (four times in a week), so the water could no longer flow into the ditch. i called and spoke with customer service. no action was taken, no phone calls placed to management returned. i canceled the subscription i’d had for five years. no one cared. didn’t i hear something about newspaper layoffs and subscriptions in the dumpster? i guess i was mistaken.
as Isaac Asimov’s Bicentennial Man Andrew Martin said—and my mom might echo—one is glad to be of service. cheers to those who continue to happily support their customers. to those who aren’t glad to be of service, you should probably go find something else to do. right, ma?